I have a whole leg in the acceptance phase of grief now.  Before it was only a toe.  I am still not jumping in with my whole body.  And while I sort of hate the acceptance phase, there are many positive things about it (This is positive week, people, remember?).  I have spent most of the last seven months battling the idea that my beautiful life is gone.  I have been trying to imagine a scenario where I will ever be as happy as I was before Max died.  When I couldn't imagine it (because it is not imaginable), I would start to panic.  Acceptance means knowing that I may never be as happy again as I was before Max died, and that is ok.  It just is what it is.  Our grief counselor says to be open to all of my greatest desires.  I always have to remind her that my GREATEST desire is to be with Max again.  The rest of the greatest desires go like this - Ted and I "win the lottery" (become wealthy somehow), we have 3-4 more kids (they don't all need to be birthed by me), we have a full time high-risk pediatrician as our live-in nanny (she got tired of the hospital life.  She also cooks because I do most of the child care myself.  She is just there to constantly monitor heart rate and look for shallow breathing and stuff). I develop my mediumship skills so that I can EASILY communicate with Maxie whenever I want.  We take awesome family vacations, lots of trips to the park, everyone is healthy, no more tragedies, the whole family gets along great and really makes an effort to understand and love one another.  It's a good list - probably not incredibly realistic, but good.  Here is the thing though, even if this dream came true, my heart would still be broken forever.  Yes, even if I could psychically speak to Max all day long, it wouldn't be the same as having him here, on my lap, for me to put my arms around and hug and kiss.  I've tried so many times to imagine the scenarios that could bring back pure happiness and joy and they just don't exist.  It's ok though.  That is acceptance.

Acceptance is also lowering my expectations.  As I have mentioned, I have fought and fought to deeply connect to people in my grief....sometimes that means my friends, sometimes it means my own parents.  It hasn't really worked out and it hasn't done much but pull us apart.  I have to accept that people don't want to meet me "in the pit" and they will need to accept that I may not come out of the pit as soon as they would like.  We grieve differently and guess what?  If you end up having a tragedy, check your expectations at the door.  The only one you can depend on is yourself.  The hardest part about that is that you will be a fraction of the person you once were and you won't think that you can depend on yourself.  You will be constantly looking for someone to save you and they won't.  That is a hard lesson but I have accepted it.  It is up to you to save your own life so you better decide that you want to do that.  I didn't.  For the LONGEST time.  Not only did I not want to save my own life, I prayed for some new tragedy to take me out.  I have accepted finally that my life is worth saving.

By the way, I really believe I am probably one of the luckiest ones because my husband has saved my life many times since our son died.  I just didn't always recognize that he was doing it.  I can now look back and see that he has had his own life to save.  That he has had the strength to give me even an ounce of effort says so much about him.  He is more of a knight in shining armor than I could have ever imagined.

Anyway, my new (not so new anymore because I met her RIGHT after Max died) friend down the street who lost her daughter to SIDS sent me this poem (not really a poem but I am calling it that for lack of something else to call it) shortly after we met.  I liked it then and it made sense but it makes more sense as the months go on.  It's possible I shared it here before and don't remember (that is my new biggest PTSD problem - I can't remember anything.  And, if you know me, you KNOW that remembering things has never been my strongest skill).  If I've posted it before I apologize.  Regardless, it is new in the context of my new state of being.  I kept her intro here:

Hey Abby, 

I found this online a few months after our daughter died and really could identify with it.  I have saved it in my email for over 3 years because I can still read it now and still relate to it.  Thought you could definitely relate too...

The Pit 
The day my child died, I fell into the pit of grief. My friends watched me struggle through daily life, waiting for the person I once was to arise from the pit, not realizing "she" is gone forever.  The pit is full of darkness, heartache and despair, it paralyzes your thoughts, movements and ability to ration. The pit leaves you forever changed, unable to surface the person you once were. 

Some of my pre-grief friends gather around the top of the pit, waiting for the old me to appear before their eyes, not understanding what’s taking me so long to emerge. After all, in their eyes, I've been in the pit for quite some time. Yet in my eyes, it seems as if I fell in only yesterday.  Not all of my pre-grief friends are gathered around the top of the pit. Some are helping me with the climb out of the darkness. They climb side by side with me from time to time, but mostly they climb ahead of me, waiting patiently at each plateau. Even with these friends I sometimes wonder if they are also waiting for the pre-grief me to magically appear before their eyes.  Then there are the casual acquaintances, you know the ones who say, "Hi, how are you?" when they really don't care or really want to know. These are the people who sigh in relief, that it is my child who died and not theirs. You know...the "better them, than me" attitude. 

My post-grief friends (and a rare pre-grief friend) are the ones who climb with me, side by side, inch by inch, out of the pit with me. They are able to reassure me when I need reassurance, rest when I need resting, and encourage me to move forward when I don't have the strength. They have no expectations, no memories and no recollection of how I "should" be. They want me to get better, to smile more often and find joy in life, but they also accepted the person I've become. The "person" who is emerging from the pit. 

*Author Unknown

1 comment

Egreeno said...

Love your list! Now ‘setting intentions’ for the rest of the greatest desires to become realities while wishing there was any way for your greatest desire to be met . . . love you!